Child Led Transitions Pave the Way for Success

Family Matters on 04.01.13
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Photo Credit: abbybatchelder/ Creative Commons

My husband’s favorite video is from the moment when my daughter took her first steps. However, it wasn't so much what she did that struck him as what I was saying to her that meant something. As she pulled herself up to standing and stood there assessing how far it was to reach me I said, “You can do it. I'm right here with you. Keep trying.” It took her a few attempts, but within a few minutes and she was walking right into my arms.

I want to provide a safe environment for her to explore the world and to support the choices she makes for herself.  She’s able to communicate with me about what she wants and she’s so determined that once she sets her mind to something she does it.

For example, for the past year and a half she's been sleeping on a mattress on the floor with a bed frame and box spring set up on the other side of her room. I've been planning on putting the mattress on the bed in another month or two, but honestly was a little fearful that even a small change might set back her already inconsistent ability to sleep through the night. However, moments before her nap today she declared, “I want to sleep up on the big bed”. So without hesitation, I moved the mattress up onto the box spring and frame and pushed the entire bed against the wall. She was so excited to crawl into the bed, burrow under the covers snuggling a menagerie of stuffed friends. Then, she informed me she was a big girl now.

I was confident that the excitement this caused would prevent her from taking her nap. But she proved me wrong- she was out like a light almost immediately. She also couldn't wait to get into her bed that night, where she soundly slept through the night.

This trend of setting her mind to something has been consistent with potty training, night weaning, being dropped off at preschool. This decisiveness has also worked in less positive ways like being committed to not ever wear certain clothes and her refusal at times to go into her car seat.

The experience made me wonder: how often do we hold our kids back or underestimate when they are ready for the next step? I am probably conservative to not push my daughter, but rather to follow her lead on what she wants to or doesn’t want to accomplish. However, at any hint that she gives me that she’s ready for something new, you can be sure that I will be the first one there to lend her support.

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